PAX EAST 2020: ‘Minute of Islands,’ – A Hand Draw Adventure Awaits

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Minute of Islands - But Why Tho

Minute of Islands is a 2D narratively driven puzzle game published by Mixtvision and developed by Studio Fizbin. Players take on the role of Mo. Mo is a young girl who sets out to save her home islands from a corruptive fog that threatens everything she knows. She is only able to do this thanks to a gift she was given by a giant – A tool that will allow her to repair the machines that have long kept her islands safe from the threatening fog.

Games built on their narrative are hard to demo. Developers don’t want to spoil big story beats before people get their hands on the finished product. Yet, it is those beats that compel players through such games. This is also a struggle for Minute of Islands. While my time with this game certainly established an atmosphere that reminded me of other narratively driven games, such as last year’s Sea of Solitude, I wasn’t able to experience those narrative beats that must be executed perfectly for the game to shine.

There were, however, a number of strongly delivered game elements I got to experience. First and foremost, was the art style. Boasting a hand-drawn style, this game creates a wonderful visual feeling. It manages to balance the overlaying danger present in the story, with a lighthearted character design almost reminiscent of a children’s book. This balance allowed me to enjoy my time with the game while expecting some hard narrative beats further into the game.

Minute of Islands - But Why Tho (1)

The bulk of the game’s moment-to-moment gameplay is split between exploration and puzzle-solving. Minute of Islands‘s exploration has Mo scaling cliffs, making jumps, and navigating the various passages presented in this 2D environment. And while the path is fairly clearly set, there are small side areas that can be explored. Most of these paths ended in a small moment where Mo recalled something from her past or how something in the scene made her feel.

The puzzle elements I got to experience were fairly standard fare. Pushing boxes and pulling levers were the crux of the challenges. And while they didn’t reinvent the puzzle wheel, they were implemented well. They were difficult enough to feel like overcoming them was an accomplishment, but not so challenging as to hinder the flow of the narrative. When I asked if the puzzles I faced were indicative of the puzzles overall I was told they were. This feels like a good thing for anyone looking for a reasonable challenge in their puzzle games.

With an estimated playtime of 4-5 hours, I think Minute of Islands has a lot of potential. The simple puzzle and exploration feel like they will remain fun for that sort of shorter game experience. If the narrative can provide a strong reason to play, I think this game can really deliver a wonderful, unique experience.

Minute of Islands is currently scheduled to be released in 2020 on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and switch.

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